Can anyone say, weddings, weddings, weddings? Because, yeah, that’s what I was attending for the next three weeks. As I crested my 26th year, it seemed like everyone who wasn’t a rabbit was getting married. (Those who WERE rabbits were getting knocked up. BOTH Reese and Copper were officially preggers! *SCREAM* More toddlers in my future. WAH! They still were going to name their first born James or Jamie. Go figure.)
First, Kate and Kaluah ran off without telling anyone. The paps outed them though.
I sent a text to Kate with tons of mad, sad, and LIVID emojis, so she sent an apology with this cute pic of them. Awww…I forgave them both and wished them well. They gambled at Lucky Palms for their honeymoon. (I didn’t get gambling, but hey, they had fun.)
The following week was what we in the Sisterhood dubbed “The Eternal Bond of Shadowmoon”. It was the most bizarre wedding I’d ever attended.
The venue gave me…shivers.
It looked like a bargain basement motel that a vampire would stay at.
And once the vows happened, my mouth fell open.
Well, the vows were one sided, really. Lord Bloodmoon promised everything.
Both of them stared at each other for an uncomfortably long time.
Then Lord Bloodmoon fell to his knees, bowing.
Elara glared and sighed. “I’m waiting,” she said in a frightening tone.
Lord Bloodmoon cleared his throat. I felt for the guy. Did he really want to marry…THAT? Brooke, my bff, I could understand, but not…evil Elara.
“I…uh…” He stopped then coughed. My skin prickled. Was he going to back out? Leave her at the altar? I guessed I couldn’t blame him, but I thought he would have bolted by now. It’d been three years!
Then I saw tears in his eyes. He was so touched by what he was about to do!
Placing his hand over his heart, he said, “I promise you, Elara Shadowalker, my total and utter devotion. I will love, honor, cherish and obey you for the rest of my days even into the afterlife. I give you my servitude without question or discontent. I am your slave. Forever and ever.”
Then he lowered his head even further, whispering, “My queen. My adoration. My reason to live.”
Without a word, Elara took Lord Bloodmoon by the neck and forced her fingers into his mouth, making him gag. “You are MINE! Until either your spirit is cast into the depths of eternal damnation or until I’m tired of you, whichever comes first. And if you so much as look at another woman, so help me, I vow I’ll hunt you down and dismember you, watching you die a slow death as your entrails spill out of your despicable, cheating body. Mark my word. It is so.”
Choking, he managed, “It is so.”
Then she trailed her tongue all over his chest and neck as he moaned in pain. I wondered if she had some sort of cage around his dick that would hurt him if… Oh. My. GOD!
“People! Get a room, will you? Not everyone wants to see that!” I yelled at them.
But it was as if that turned them on even more.
James just laughed.
Thank God Brooke and Nathan had a normal wedding about thirty minutes after that scene at a church down the street. Geeze! I wondered if Elara had permanently damaged him. But then I thought, nah…Elara wanted kids. She’d make sure not to hurt Lord Bloodmoon Jr. too much.
Fast forward to the following weekend and I was in Brindleton Bay for my bff from high school, Gabby Cook’s, wedding. She was marrying Cory’s longtime friend and band partner, Wyatt Roth. She’d asked me to be in her wedding, but I was so busy, I could barely manage to come for the ceremony and a little bit of the reception. My other friends from high school were her bridemaids, Mariana Sala and Carly Hamlin.
The vows were so sweet, they made me wistful. My mind wandered to how my life would have been so different if we hadn’t moved away from Brindleton Bay. What if I’d dated Cory that whole time? Would I have married him, stayed in this town, and lived a totally different life? A quiet one.
Something inside me ached for what Gabby had. She was a local hair dresser and Wyatt was a firefighter when he wasn’t playing gigs in his band. How totally cute and adorable was that?
Just then Cory caught my eye and grinned, making me all squishy inside.
I smiled back. Maybe it wasn’t too late. I didn’t have to keep being a super model, did I?
I looked at who I was–even now I was surrounded by my bodyguards. Paps could sniff out where I was at all times. It was like I had a tracker on or something. I hated that. Maybe Cory had the answers I’d been looking for all along.
At the reception, I had fun with my girlfriends. I’d missed all of them so much.
Next, Cory found me and gave me a huge hug. “God, are you real?” he asked. “It’s been too long, Lexie.”
I wiped a tear. I couldn’t believe I was getting this emotional over my old boyfriend.
“You look so…great, Lex. I’ve been watching your star rise this whole time. Velvet’s Secret supermodel? I’m so proud of you. See? I told you that you were the smartest, most beautiful girl on the planet.”
My cheeks grew warm. Was it 90 degrees outside or something? “Thanks,” I said, shyly.
“Oh, hey, I need to thank you,” he said, beaming.
Surprised, I asked, “Why?”
“Because I know it was you who put James Sanderson up to telling his producer to give my band a call. We did a demo for him and was chosen to be the replacements on their boyband label. We’re going to front for the Heartthrob’s last concert! It’s mind-blowing.”
All of this hit me like a tidal wave. Then “Heartthrob’s last concert” knocked me full on as if someone dumped a whole bucket of ice cold water on me. “What?” I asked.
“Oh, shit,” Cory said. “Um…I think I was supposed to keep it a secret about the Heartthrobs splitting. I signed a nondisclosure and everything. Man…but I thought at least you’d know.”
Mind reeling, I felt like James kicked me square in the stomach. But I didn’t want Cory to feel badly.
Putting on the fakest smile, I said, “Oh..yeah…right. I knew! Of course! Because James is my very best friend. He tells me everything.”
“Then you’ll be there, right?”
I shrugged. “Oh, well…I don’t know…”
“Oh, God, Lex, you’ve got to be there! Listen, I’ll leave you a pass for the VIP section, okay? And I’ll meet up with you afterwards. Please say yes.”
Aww…he looked so cute, how could I disappoint him? “Sure, Cory. I wouldn’t miss it.”
Grinning, he said, “It’ll be just like old times.”
I told him I had to leave to catch my plane and promised I’d see him in two weeks for the concert.
As I turned around, my stomach clenched. The Heartthrobs were splitting up and I’d never heard one word about it.
By the time I got back to my place, my blood was boiling. What kind of asshole doesn’t tell his very best friend that his band is splitting up? We’d spent nearly every day together and not once did he mention it. Did he not trust me?
What’s more, he helped Cory’s band be their replacement! And he didn’t think this was news I’d like to know?
Fuming, I pressed his number.
I’d practiced this song so many times, I knew I would nail it at our concert, but I couldn’t help feeling nervous about it. What if she didn’t like it? Just then my phone buzzed.
“Speak of the devil,” I said, chuckling. “Hey, Lexie! Back from Brindleton Bay? How was the wedding?”
What I got was an earful. She was yelling at me so much, I had no idea what the hell she was saying. “Whoa. Slow down. What’s going on?”
She then accused me of not trusting her and that I went behind her back and got Cory’s band and other shit I couldn’t quite understand. “Hold up,” I said, “Did you check your mail? There’s a letter and a VIP pass in there for you that’ll explain everything.”
Instead of listening to me, she started crying then hung up.
“What the fuck, Lexie?” I yelled at the phone. I couldn’t believe she was mad. “Just read your damn mail!” But she couldn’t hear me.
I called her over and over again and sent a ton of texts. But she wouldn’t respond.
I put James on ignore. That would show him. How dare he produce Cory’s band without telling me? And on top of that, not say a word about the Heartthrobs breaking up. It was like he was throwing me into Cory’s arms. Did I tell him I wanted Cory as my boyfriend? I didn’t remember saying anything like that.
I refused to open the letter he mentioned, too. Instead, I crumpled it up and threw it away.
Then, to spite him, (and because I was curious), I went to the concert anyway but only to see Cory. I’d ignore all things Heartthrob. I was so sick to death of them I could scream.
Cory’s band did amazing. I didn’t realize he could even dance. Their theme was so different from the Heartthrobs, too.
They had a mix of tribal dance with breakdance moves. The teens ate it up.
And their sound was indie surf merged with the same kind of “I love you” lyrics all boybands had. A cool blend and unique. Fresh.
Next the Heartthrobs took the stage. Oh. My. GOD!
I didn’t want to watch them, but how could anyone help it? They were epic. No one could come close to their sound, their moves…they just stole the stage wherever they went.
I couldn’t help but watch them. Especially James. He’d taken my breath away from the first time I’d seen him. Even more than Charlie. I remembered how I didn’t want to get swept away by his baby blue eyes, but he was so talented.
How could they break up? And why?
But then I got angry about James not telling me, and I sat down, trying not to look at the monitor we had in the VIP section.
Suddenly, Cory walked in. I popped up, saying, “There’s the next superstar! Cory! You did awesome!”
“You think so?” he asked.
“Oh, God, yes! It was amazing!”
He gave me a hug, squeezing me tight and whispered, “Thanks, Lex. That means a lot.”
He put on a shirt then we chatted for a while. Cory told me all about Surf’s UP’s future plans and what a rush all of this was. I encouraged him to always work hard like the Heartthrobs. But even the mention of them to Cory made me choke up. I had to get out of there before I lost it.
I told Cory I had to go to the bathroom. When I rose, I heard James’ voice echo as the crowd hushed. “What the…?”
James was all decked out in a butterfly jacket by himself on stage.
“I have an announcment to make. With half our band getting married and wanting to move on, it’s time my bandmates go their separate ways.”
The teenagers wailed. Oh my God, you would have thought he’d committed hara-kiri right there on stage. But I had to admit, hearing those words come out of his mouth made me want to shake a fist right along with them.
Once they’d quieted down, he went on, “But I’m happy to announce, I’m going solo.”
More screaming, shouting, cheering. This took me aback even more.
“So, I want to perform the title song of my debut album. I’ve written it for my very best friend. You see, she’s mad at me right now because I didn’t tell her about all of this. I’d wanted it to be a surprise, but I guess I screwed up. Lexie, if you’re out there, I’m sorry and I hope you’ll forgive me.”
“Holy Heartthrob,” I whispered at the monitor, putting my hands on my hips. “What the freak are you up to, James?”
The introduction was a beautiful, melodic piece–so lovely, I was already captured by it.
Then he started singing.
“When I first saw you standing there,
You took my breath away…”
As he sang, the music surrounded him and he stopped playing while stepping on the keyboard.
“You were like a butterfly, flitting in the wind.
I couldn’t capture you,
No matter how hard I tried.
You had you’re own path to take…
“But I knew you were all that I needed.”
He raised his hands.
“So what do I have to do?”
He jumped down and the screen flashed the words, “Babydoll”.
Please say yes to me…
“I love you…
I love you…”
When I heard those words, tears spurted in my eyes as my heart pounded.
I was thinking about why I’d been so angry and upset that he seemed to not care about me. He didn’t tell me about the band splitting. Didn’t tell me he was going solo. And it also seemed as if he just wanted to shove Cory at me.
But I was so wrong.
He did it all for me. Whether I responded to him or not.
With a heavy heart, I looked at poor Cory’s hopeful eyes.
“Cory?” I said. “I…um…I’m sorry. I’ve got to go.”
He looked as if he was thinking then gave me a side smile. “Well, what are you waiting for, Lex? The song’s almost over. Go to him!”
That’s all I needed to hear. I whispered, “Thanks, Cory.” Then I bolted up on stage. (In heels, no less. That was a feat in itself!) And I launched my body right at him.
Plastering a warm kiss on his lips, I wanted to let him know exactly how I felt.
Then I warned, “You better not ever keep something like this from me again.”
Instead of whispering sweet promises in my ear, he said, “Whoa…Lexie! You’re too heavy!” And he fell backwards like a cheap lawnchair.
Rubbing his butt, he whined, “I think you broke my ass.”
“Oh my God, you’re such a baby,” I chided.
Pulling him up, the crowd started chanting, “JA-MIE! JA-MIE! JA-MIE!”
James slipped his arms around my waist and said, “Hear that, babydoll? We have our very own ship name. They love you.”
I giggled, not believing any of this was happening. “I guess so.” Rubbing his face, I said, “We’ve come a long way, huh?”
Next the crowd roared another chant, “KISS! KISS! KISS!”
I looked at him, and asked, “What do you think? Should we?”
He pulled my face to his and said, “We can’t disappoint our fans.”
“But…” I countered. Pressing his lips to mine, he cut off my sentence. I sucked in a breath as he slid his tongue into my mouth, setting every single nerve in me on fire.
Oh, God…I’d forgotten how good he could kiss. My heart exploded into five zillion happy face emojis, and I didn’t even think about the crowd, Cory, Charlie, no one.
It was just me and James.
The one whom I’d loved all this time and didn’t even know it.
Can anyone say, Happily Ever After?
Yeah, I can.
Because of the sheer magnitude of the ending chapter, I cannot post it until Wednesday, September 26th.
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